FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP (Somerset) — It is the signature event for the Franklin Food Bank: the annual Tour de Franklin bike ride, which in its 27th year in 2016 attracted nearly 800 cyclists and raised $78,000.

The turnout was almost double what organizers had predicted to New Jersey 101.5 prior to last year's event. This year, having settled into their new home base of Franklin High School, the food bank is looking to expand this family friendly experience even more. They say they're prepared for another incremental increase in ridership.

"What we're trying to get people to do is not only ride, not only participate, not only be our friends, but also to get other people to support them, and actually sponsor their ride," said executive director Frank Hasner.

Sponsorship of riders is one of the big goals this year, according to Hasner, who said that can only help increase awareness of Central Jersey's continuing need for the food bank's services.

"You hear 'Tour de Franklin' and even though it's been around for 28 years and people know about us, sometimes people think it might be a bike race," he said. "Well, this really is a bike-a-thon. It's a way to raise money for the food bank."

The ride offers a scenic tour of Franklin Township, and starting five of the event's seven routes at the high school means a safer trip for all. At the high school itself, parking is more readily available than tours of years past. Breakfast, lunch, and music will all be there to keep everyone satisfied and entertained.

Tour de Franklin 2017 takes place Sunday, April 30, with registration continuing through that morning. (Hasner pointed out that many cyclists wait to make their decisions on whether to participate based on the weather.) The different rides, for varying skill levels, all have unique start times. To pre-register, set up a sponsorship page, and find out many more details, visit franklinfoodbank.org.

Check out our previous coverage of the Tour de Franklin from 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter. He does not know how to ride a bicycle. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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